How may global megatrends affect the future of your city/region? By focusing on different policy areas, policymakers and experts from cities and regions explored that through our Megatrends Engagement Tool at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019. 

Maciej Krzysztofowicz from the EU Policy Lab giving instructions for the Megatrends Engagement Tool. Photo: European Week of Regions and Cities

The Megatrends Engagement tool is a workshop tool on anticipatory thinking and foresight for policymakers and various stakeholders. It uses visual and facilitation techniques to offer a 360 degree review of future-related questions in an engaging way.

In the workshop, the 14 Megatrends from the EC Megatrends Hub are used to improve understanding about the factors impacting the future of a certain field. Megatrends can be defined as long-term driving forces that are observable now and which will most likely have significant influence on the future – as well as on all policy areas to some extent.

Participants in the session at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019. Photo: Anda Ghiran/EU Policy Lab

Group work is the basis of this workshop, and preferably up to 6 people in each group maximum. It works well to have several tables working at the same time, who can afterwards share their results in plenary.

In the session at the European Week of Regions and Cities, groups of participants used the megatrends tool to discuss issues as varied as integration of incoming migrants in communities, local food systems, the energy transition, innovation in sustainable mobility, and the future of technology in cities. The feedback from participants was very positive and the format permitted lively discussions without a dedicated moderator at the table.

Anda Ghiran from the EU Policy Lab together with local and regional policymakers discussing how megatrends impact their policy area. Photo: European Week of Regions and Cities

One participant coming from a Norwegian city found the tool useful for diving into fruitful conversations, while avoiding discussions where you may easily get stuck: “I like that this tool isn’t about discussing the megatrends themselves – the focus is on your issue in the context of megatrends”.

Some other advantages of the megatrends engagement tool is that it fosters a discussion on policy issues in a future-oriented context, it may raise new aspects of the issue, as well as ask more forward-looking questions about potential solutions. The tool has already been used inside the European Commission by among others DG GROW and DG EAC. 

Anna Hakami, EU Policy Lab, introducing the Megatrends Hub and the engagement tool. Photo: European Week of Regions and Cities

Two versions of the megatrends tool have been developed: one shorter, more exploratory workshop that normally requires 3-hours, and one which has a larger focus on impact assessment and can take up to a full day. You can find the full instructions on how to use them online. If you would have questions or feedback for us, reach us through JRC-MEGATRENDS@ec.europa.eu.

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